Tories to set out rural manifesto and declare farmers ‘neglected by SNP’

Farmers have been told the Scottish Conservatives will be “on their side”, as the party sets out its rural General Election manifesto.

Rachael Hamilton, the party’s rural affairs spokeswoman, said the sector has been “shamefully neglected” by the Scottish Government.

She will launch the manifesto at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh on Thursday.

The plans include delivering £1 billion to farming across the UK to allow the sector to use gene-editing technology.

Ms Hamilton accused SNP ministers of “repeatedly” letting down farmers, crofters and workers in the agriculture sector, as she set out plans to introduce a young person’s agri-enterprise fund to support new entrants into the industry, while also tackling crime with a Rural Theft Bill.

She said: “Rural Scotland has been shamefully neglected by a central belt-focused SNP Government over the last 17 years.

A flock of sheep grazing on grass
Rachael Hamilton said the SNP Scottish Government has neglected the agriculture industry (PA)

“Our dedicated rural manifesto clearly shows how we are the voice of these communities who feel abandoned by ministers in Holyrood.

“That feeling is particularly strong among our farming and agriculture communities. As they descend on the Royal Highland Show, I am delighted to outline our positive vision to support them going forward.”

She said the rural manifesto shows farmers “we are on their side”, adding: “That’s in sharp contrast to the SNP who have repeatedly let Scotland’s farmers, crofters and agriculture workers down over their 17 years in office.

“Rural Scotland has so much potential but is being failed by nationalist representatives who are completely out of touch with their needs.”

The plans also address depopulation and the challenges of rural healthcare.

The SNP has been asked for comment.